Wednesday, January 27, 2010


KU’s Gridiron Club flops


Glowing rhetoric to the contrary, the vaunted Gridiron Club sure looks dead in the water to me.

An eyebrow-raising project to begin with, this latest attempt by Kansas Athletics Inc. to suction multiple dollars from the wallets of the well-heeled KU faithful may, in fact, sink under the weight of its own audacity.

For those of you unsure or even unaware of this controversial concept, Kansas Athletics wants to erect a structure high above the east side of Memorial Stadium and reserve it for 3,000 elitists.

Unveiled prior to the start of the 2009 football season, the plan involved selling club memberships ranging from $30,000 for five years to $105,000 for 30 years.

In an attempt to assuage a university community already grumbling about the athletic department’s unending thirst for money, KAI said it would designate some of the proceeds to the school itself, although it didn’t say when.

Not that when matters anymore because the notion of a Gridiron Club, at least in my opinion, will slowly fade into the sunset with Kansas Athletics never admitting its mistake.

When corporations announce such ambitious projects, it’s imperative to obtain the bulk of the nut — in this case $34 million — within the first few months. That hasn’t happened. Only about 13 percent of the total has been raised.

Why did the Gridiron Club flop?

Obviously, the sour economy didn’t help. Then along came a disastrous football season. The Jayhawks were predicted to contend for the Big 12 North championship, then won their first five games to enhance the euphoria.

Is it unreasonable to suspect that most of the $4.5 million Kansas Athletics has raised for the Gridiron Club was pledged during those first couple of months?

However, as you know, the Jayhawks went in the tank, losing their last seven games and costing Mark Mangino his job. Yes, I know they used Mangino’s ill-treatment of players as the excuse for asking for his resignation, but that was like blaming the ’51 Kansas River flood on a leaky tap at Johnny’s Tavern.

In order to spark renewed interest in the Gridiron Club, Kansas Athletics needed to hit a home run with its new hire, but Turner Gill was at best a triple and probably more of a ground-rule double.

So the economy and the failed football season were detriments, but there were two minor factors as well.

One was the benefits. Membership would include a game ticket, unlimited food and drink and access to the club. That’s a lot of good stuff, right? But do you see what’s missing? That’s right. No parking pass. Club members would have to pay for their parking.

Good grief. You cough up all that money and you STILL have to pay to park. Oh, well, that just proves what savvy KU professors and administrators have known for years, that the parking department — not Kansas Athletics — is the omnipotent force on Mount Oread.

Here’s another problem. By sitting high on the east side, club members would be looking into the sun for most or part of every game unless the skies were cloudy.

All in all, with the misguided notion of a Gridiron Club, Kansas Athletics pushed the envelope too far.


brianharold9 11 years, 10 months ago

I don't think that the Sun could be considered as any reason as to why this thing is not moving as planned. It would not take much to figure out a way to block out the sun in a way while allowing full viewing of the stadium from any of these suites. So do not try and throw "other" interesting tidbits into this story just to push for a potential failure. I think this is very simple. The University of Kansas decided to make a move to expand in hopes of a great football and basketball season in which both sports would bring in a large amount of revenue alone. The football team struggled, the head coach of the football team "resigned", there was change which equals uncertainty and eventually leads donors, boosters, and people involved feeling hesitant to donate in a time of transition. As a result, donations are down for one year, with the option for the next.

The option, is that the new coach, Turner Gill, takes what team he has left, whether they are talented or not, and takes them to a level that shows progress and hope for the future. If this is accomplished then donations will gradually increase and boosters will be happy with what they are seeing. They will eventually want to guarantee themselves the opportunity to have suites for the next 5-25 years and enjoy the success that the University of Kansas will eventually have.

This is all what could happen with ONE successful season!!! It probably doesn't even have to be this next season, but if he is successful in the next few seasons and fans and boosters see success then the Gridiron Club could be more than ready to be carried out. No matter what our recruiting class turns out to be, this next year is an extremely crucial football season for our athletic department and the Gridiron Club.

I am hopeful, Rock Chalk Brandon Lytle

Omari Miller 11 years, 10 months ago

I'm not sure what you premise is, Chuck. Do you alledge that KU's mistake was believing it should expand the stadium, was it that these were for high dolllar commitments, or was it fo not calling this a failed endeavor as soon as the team laid an egg this season and Mangino left/was let go?

It seems to me that, by your own tacit admission, the state of the economy wasn't really a big factor if fat wallets, as you assume, were opening before the team started losing and Mangino fell into hot water.

And, like it or not, it's the financial commitment from those paying for more than a seat and bag of peanuts that elevate and sustain programs to the lofty levels to which Kansas has aspirations. Calling this new section one for elitists is hypebolic at best, but more likely disingenuous/imflamatory or terribly ignorant. "Exclusive", I give you. "Elite", maybe. But "elitist"? Over the top and blind to the fact that we play one of the most competitive conferences in American sport. Would you have us ignore the reality that luxury levels are a standard, not optional in this day and age? Or are we to just strap on the leather helmets and go back to wooden grandstands, driven by the egalitarian belief that a football game ticket for one is a football game ticket for all (sarcasm and hyperbole intended)?

Also, let's face it... winning helps too. We had been winning (and will again soon) and KAI was rightfully trying to capitalize on that in looking to move the program ahead. Then things went south for us. Woops. Bad season. Or is KAI to take the blame for the 1-7 record in conference play?

I just don't get it. KU was at fault for believing that it should continue its improvement of the facilities and program by building an addition catering to deep pockets? What's wrong with that? Am I missing something? Because everything else in your article seems to be circumstancial. Don't mean to be overly critical of your piece or rant, but this just seems like a cheap shot at KAI for making what would have otherwise been a smart move were if not for unfortunatey conditions subsequent to when they put plans in motion.

Marcia Parsons 11 years, 10 months ago

Topped off by a bad headline which goes far beyond the speculations of the story.

mojayhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

This story sounds like sour grapes and definite premature criticism of Coach Gill. Ground rule double? Unfounded and unfair.

kadub53 11 years, 10 months ago

What do you expect from this guy? How he (and Mayer for that matter) keeps being allowed to write anywhere but on the walls of his house is beyond me.

number1jayhawker 11 years, 10 months ago

This guy is just mad because we beat his Alum school in BB Monday night.

These guys retire and sit around thinking up stories for weeks and this is what they come up with?

Ryan Richey 11 years, 10 months ago

Geez. Give it time. Rome wasn't built in a day.

JayViking 11 years, 10 months ago

That's a few minutes of my life I'll never have back. Thanks.

mattvely 11 years, 10 months ago

Woodling = Debbie Downer. The Gridiron Club will be a failure, yes. Maybe we should remove the lights and stop on the new scoreboard construction too. Woodling, go to the Outhouse for 2 for 1 night and come back tomorrow with a smile and write something that adds to KU Sports instead of this depressing drivel and finger pointing garbage.

jcsmith 11 years, 10 months ago

"QUOTE. ProudKansas.

Geez. Give it time. Rome wasn't built in a day."


Well I'll Be Damned.

DocBean 11 years, 10 months ago

Woodling isn't saying Gill won't be a good coach.

He's saying we're bringing in an unproven coach, with just a decent track record. He's right. It's not like KU brought in Harbaugh, or some ex NFL guy that would really excite the fan base. Gill is not the kind of hire that gets donors to open their wallets, but that's not saying he's a bad hire.

Ben Kane 11 years, 10 months ago

I wish i could get my time back from reading this article.

5DecadeHawk 11 years, 10 months ago

This is ranks up there with some of the most hilarious things Chucklehead Woodling has ever written.

This same man wrote that KU would never be a power in basketball back in the early 80's. Chuckles claimed that KU and Lawrence simply didn't have the ability to recruit as necessary nor the community have the ability to support the program as necessary to make the NCAA tournament consistently and compete for championships. He has never really has admitted he was simply wrong, even now when the obvious overwhelming evidence proves Chuckhead is such a clusterfrack that it's beyond comprehension.

The Gridiron Club is going to go forward. It's extremely doubtful that it will happen this year. It will get pushed back a year or more. Big deal. Perkins may make some changes to the plan and perhaps call it a new name, but it's going to happen. The luxury box is the next logical step for the contiued growth of KU Football and KU Athletics in general. It's going to happen eventually.

The economy is starting to turn around. KU football will start winning again and generate renewed excitement. The dollars will then start rolling in all over again. These things happen in cycles. No worries.

Will the LJW and KUSports have the cajones to keep this article posted online and not delete it when that happens?

I doubt it.

The "Mangino to West Virginia" article got deleted because it was packed full of crappy reporting and lies. Just like Chuckie Hardwoodhead's clueless opinions in this one.

Just like a mythical Calipari Final Four appearance, Chuck Woodenhead's predictions won't last, he'll eventually be forced to VACATE them. Of course... just like the slimebag cheater Calipari... the Chuckster will never admit he every made any mistakes or did anything wrong.


huskercarpenter 11 years, 10 months ago

i came to this web site to see if there was any info on recruiting, i don't know why it has been almost 2 weeks since they had anything on recruiting. but instead of recruiting news there was this artical, i don't think this web site gets it. i have gotten more information about k.u. football from than i have gotten here and this is suppose to be k.u. sports web site.

omaha .com reported last week that chuck long visited bronson marsh in omaha, he was an all-nebraska q.b., well that story ended yesterday when he accepted a greyshirt offer from nebr. so he will wait till next year in jan. to enroll at nebr. and his scholly will count against next years class.

yesterday they also reported that turner gill hired an on campus recruiting coordinator, his name is joe daily, he followed him from buffalo.

55jayhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

Glad this project tanked! Too many perks not given for the amount of money that had to be paid. Let's just play football with what we have and keep filling the stadium, we really don't need this addition at this time. Lou's other bad project put to bed mercifully.

Phoggin_Loud 11 years, 10 months ago


No recruiting news, but I did find 2 interesting articles ranking the recent football HC hires. Dennis Dodd ranks KU at #6 & Todd Kaufmann of Bleacher Report has HCTG #1 on his list.

Here are the links:

rolo2383 11 years, 10 months ago

I agree that Lou has come up with some terrible ideas and has made some pitiful hires but Lew has done more for the athletic department in his short time here than any other AD we've ever had.

The GC will happen and I can't wait to see it full along with a full stadium in the near future.

jdavidholt 11 years, 10 months ago

Lew has tapped the Big Donors to the max . . . for now. It's time to offer something for the fans . . . like Tear Out the Track! (KU is only one three BCS schools with a track inside the stadium. NO other Big 12 Schools!)

Put 7 rows of seats close to the field. Create a real atmosphere where KU actually has a home field advantage.

Rock Chalk.

Jack Brooks 11 years, 10 months ago

55, What "other" bad project(s) are you referencing?

Rolo: "..terrible ideas..." ? Please, elaborate.

Armen Kurdian 11 years, 10 months ago

Here's my opnion...Verizon sucks, the government's spending too much money, and Brangelina stories need to be banned. Can I have some money now too?

temjay 11 years, 10 months ago

If there was any genuine optimism in the future of KU football, they wouldn't think about building a Gridiron Club. They'd think about building a new stadium.

kuballhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

For those of you who have actually reviewed plans for the Gridiron Club, you'll realize that removing the track from Memorial Stadium is actually part of the plan. Once GC funding is secured, plans to fund and construct an "Olympic Village" will move forward. The Olympic Village includes an independent track and field facility/stadium and, as the plans state, "The facility would allow KU to vacate the track at Memorial Stadium" ( I agree, the GC is a very expensive endeavor, and isn't thriving the way KAI initially thought it, or the KU football team, would in 2009. However, if KAI actually raises all the necessary funds, the plan will benefit almost all KU sports and Memorial Stadium will likely be more fan friendly without the track.

Ted Adams 11 years, 10 months ago

I agree. An article with the headline that the Gridiron Club has issues is warranted. However, a "these are the things that aren't working" vs. "these are the things it has going for it" take would have been much better and more acceptable.

I would like to know if the Gridiron Club might have already broken ground and be well on its way to being ready for August '10 if Tuberville had been the hire. I think so. As much as Gill is a "good" hire, my choice was Tuberville and would have been the "homerun" hire and built from the foundation that MM made.

William James 11 years, 10 months ago

Just 6 months ago Lew Perkins was on top of the world. Since then Bonnie Hendrickson, Lews first hire, hasn't lived up to preseason expectations or any expectations. He dragged Coach Mangino threw the mud to save some money and hire an unproven coach. The new football coach is now being out recruited by some guy named Tommy Tuberville. The Gridiron Club is headed nowhere fast and the Mens Basketball team can't seem to do anything right off the court. Lew Perkins approval ratings are probably crashing faster than the Presidents.

Dennis Mahorney 11 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the update HuskerCarpenter. I was wondering about that recruit. Well, thats sad.I wanted Gills first head to head with Nebraska to be a win. On another note, the paper today says Josh Smith of the Hutchinson Salthawks,(KU wanted him as a perfered walkon) Was offered a scholarship to play for Navy. So far his only D1 offer. Way to go Josh! Good luck, we are rooting for you where ever you go.

Bill Kackley 11 years, 10 months ago

You guys are sad. Leave poor Chuck alone. All he is saying is that the Gridiron Club was a poor Idea to begin with. Would much rather see additional seating added by taking out track, scooping out floor of stadium, adding additional seats and building a first class soocer/track facility like MU has. Really tired of being behind Missou in these things.

jdavidholt 11 years, 10 months ago

KUBallHawk-- I've seen the engineering studies from the early '90s that show that by lowering the field they can add seven rows where the track would have been. After a conversation I had with Dolph Simons, Jr. at a football game way back in 1989 (or so), Dolph led the charge to take the first step. Frederick never acted on it (or much else other than b-ball).

The Gridiron Club plan shows "vacating the track," but does it say anything about lowering the field to add the seats? Not from what I've heard. The whole idea, since Oklahoma did it in 1948!, is to get the fans closer to the field.

Tommy Tuberville was my first choice as well. Until I find out, I will always wonder why Lew had no apparent interest in Tuberville. I will watching with interest his success at TT compared to Gill's at KU. Tuberville would have been a triple or home run.

Patrick Leiker 11 years, 10 months ago


thanks for taking the time to point out that you didn't get what you expected from visiting this website. And btw, nobody cares that you didn't get what you expected.

Rivethead 11 years, 10 months ago

The funding/excitement behind the Gridiron Club correlates to the excitement behind the hire of Turner Gill. Right or wrong, I think the KU football fan masses (especially the "well-heeled" ones) expected a bigger hire. They didn't get it. Now, they're in wait and see mode....and the Gridiron Club is in purgatory.

It really is that simple. None of this economy, sun, no parking bs......

100 11 years, 10 months ago

The field needs to be lowered.

If that is part of the Gridironplan plan I'll put a check in the mail today of anyone can confirm it.

When we're on National TV it's gotta have a bigtime feel.

The field must be lowered with the fans surrounding it.

By the way, Tubberville it turns out was desperate for a job, pretty much calling everywhere that had an opening. TT fans aren't all that excited.

Gill was ranked #1 by the Bleacher Report. Tubberville #10.

Guys buckle up, Gill is building the foundation for a dynasty.

A dynasty.

A dynasty!!!!!!!

We will play with passion. We will recruit with passion. This will be KU football like nothing we've ever seen.

This is a magical hire & within the next few years, gridiron club or not, the field finally will be lowered...

kuballhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

jdavidholt -- I also heard we could add seven rows to the stadium as well if the track was removed. That would be awesome. You're right, Frederick (and Bohl) was a fantastic man, but not much of a fundraiser for the athletic dept. Lew has done some incredible things for KAI and this Gridiron Club/Olympic Village could really take our athletic dept. to the next level.

100 -- I am pretty sure lowering the field and adding seats is part of the plan, although it isn't stated in the plan itself, so I can't confirm the rumors. One can hope!! Unless the Gridiron Club takes off within the next year or two, we may not find out for a long time.

Joseph Kuebel 11 years, 10 months ago

kadub53 (anonymous) says... What do you expect from this guy? How he (and Mayer for that matter) keeps being allowed to write anywhere but on the walls of his house is beyond me.

January 27, 2010 at 5:39 a.m. ( permalink | suggest removal )

I couldn't agree more.

shelleysue 11 years, 10 months ago

The Gridiron Club is the Wild West World of Lawrence.

The moment I heard about it I figured it was doomed to fail. Even if 2009 had been a great year, the Gridiron Club was totally jumping the gun. I'm not saying that we can never get there - I certainly hope we do. However one Orange Bowl win is not going to get us all the big time perks of a national powerhouse. I'm sorry, but Perkins was wrong on this one. At least his timing was.

kureader 11 years, 10 months ago

Lew has surprised us before ... by somehow raising (or sometimes conviscating) money from alumni to build facilities. I figured he had an "ace in the hole" ... a couple of alums who were willing to underwrite a big percentage of the Gridiron Club. Without that, this looks like stretch ... good football program or not.
Earlier articles that included more financial details indicated that a full subscription to this 3,000 seat addition would yield almost 3X as much money as required to amortize the cost of the facility and fund its maintenance ... the additional money to go into an athletic department facility "slush fund" or to other non-athletic facilities. The athletic department can't even tell prospective Gridiron Club Members what all the money will be used for. The current proposal would cost an alum about $20,000 per year to hold 4 season football tickets. All that to see 6 football games ... 2 games, maybe 3, against teams we've never heard of. Maybe they'll pull it off. But this project certainly takes Lew's ambitious fund raising schemes to another level.

Benjamin Piehler 11 years, 10 months ago

great article, hit home on alot of stuff. mangino wasnt fired for the "roughness", lew perkins had it out for him for losing, which would endanger his baby, the gridiron club; which is another way for the school to earn bank. gridiron club is dead in the water. KU football is likely dead in the water also.

lew perkins runs ku like a mafia boss.

Kman_blue 11 years, 10 months ago

I get it, hawk + impersonator = hawkinator. Clever!

huskercarpenter, forget about coming here for any REAL FOOTBALL NEWS. If something negative can be written it will be here, but other than that, FORGET ABOUT IT!

If you want KU football news, check the message board or go somewhere else. This place has shown a very consistent tendency of not covering KU football except box scores, negative articles, news so big they can't ignore it, or the extremely occasional historical look at something/someone involved with KU football.

Carter Patterson 11 years, 10 months ago

Chuck, are you still upset about the new seat distribution program that kicked all the old timers out of their Allen Field House seats?

Those Elitist as you call them do a hell of a lot of the University to maintain its national stature. The fact that KAI is raking in the cash is a GOOD thing...not a bad thing.

The Gridiron club will be built. Maybe not next year or the year after, but I bet its built before Lew retires.

MitchumMan 11 years, 10 months ago

What little recruiting news I've heard:

0 new recruits since a week and a half ago. We had at least one surprise visitor last weekend though (Brandon Bourbon). He's a 4* RB out of Missouri that is already committed to Stanford. He's also set to visit Notre Dame and is being recruited there by our old Ed Warinner. Right now he has KU and ND listed as being low on his interest. Looks like a stud! Hopefully we can get him to sign.

100 11 years, 10 months ago

Lower the field & people will give lots of money. All kinds of out of state Hawks would mail checks to get the darn field lowered so we can have a blast watching games on National TV seeing our student fans surrounding the field!!!!!!!

If you make it public, Lew, we will send some checks...

Lower the field!!!!!!

rastameta 11 years, 10 months ago

Tubberville would not have been a homerun hire. He is a terrible fit for KU for many reasons. There is a reason why he was in the press saying he was interested in jobs and this is because most schools were not interested in him at all and there are reasons for that which I will not go into here. Harbaugh would have been the big name hire, but Gill is a very good fit. Gill just needs to be a good CEO, who can recruit good players and good staff that can coach. He has already accomplished the latter.

huskercarpenter 11 years, 10 months ago

phoggin, thanks i will check out those links, they ranked him #1! thats pretty cool.

chalky, no problem, if i can ever figure out how to put the actual links up i will do that. i don't get alot of stuff from up there but trust me they are paying attention.

kman, it's not all negative but i have seen what you are talking about. but if you hear any news about the football program put it up, thanks.

hailtoku 11 years, 10 months ago

It baffles me that a Division 1 stadium with a track still circling the field would opt to build luxury seats before expanding the seating for general admission.

Putting seats in place of the track would up the capacity to about 60,000 and would cost much less to build than the Gridiron Club and would be sure to sell.

It just seems like a more logical investment to me.

kureader 11 years, 10 months ago

hailtoku ... the Gridiron Club isn't intended to be an investment ... it's designed to be a money maker that's supposed to cost less than $20mm and bring in about $12mm a year ... forever. Cost has nothing to do with it. Another 8,000 seats generates maybe $2.5mm per year, and since we're not sold out (we sell less than 40,000 season tickets) ... it generates practically nothing. We're just moving people closer to the field.
I'm not suggesting that it's a great idea ... But, the question is ... why would someone who now pays $1,300 for 4 season tickets on the 50 YL pay $20,000 instead to sit in an enclosed space, farther from the field? so they can buy a beer at half time?

100 11 years, 10 months ago

Are we serious about football?




gardenjay 11 years, 10 months ago

Agree with 100. Univ. of Michigan a great example. Could be used as an emergency reservoir.

Not surprised to see a bunch of Woodling-haters post quickly. Some people never grow up, and need to hate, hate, hate. If you actually read the article, he is appropriately criticizing the bloated, mafia-like AD organization. If you think positive things about the AD, then what we need is actually MORE investigative reporting, not less. Nothing rosy about a money-sucking industry that spends millions on attorneys right on our beloved campus. Gives money to academics.....rrriiiiiggghhhtttt. Good call, Woodling. AD, Bleahh!

Rick Arnoldy 11 years, 10 months ago

I, too, can’t imagine who would spend that much money to sit further away from the field. And if the field is lowered, as it should, then they’ll be even further away.

Other things don’t make sense, either. All that money to cough up and you only get ONE ticket? I’m sure even the deep pockets are laughing at that one. And scoff all you want, the sun in their faces was one of the first things I thought of.

I’d rather see that money put in as good faith money to an entirely new stadium. Play in Arrowhead for two years while this one is torn down and a real stadium with fan amenities is built.

Ryan Mullen 11 years, 10 months ago

ohioburg, Yes that is what I have been saying tear it down and build a new one. Play in Arrowhead and make tons of money. None of anybody is saying makes sense just build a new stadium.

rolo2383 11 years, 10 months ago

brooksjjj, sorry I didn't get back to your question yesterday. I should have put quotes around the names I used in my earlier post. I was being a smarta$$ b/c the person spelled Lew Perkin's name Lou. I was alluding to this mythical 'Lou' person as making poor decision but then I said 'Lew' has done more for the AD than any other person we've had in his position.

I haven't read many of the other posts on here but what I've heard is they can't really lower the field b/c of the thick bedrock under the stadium. Don't know if this is really true but I've heard they can't dynamite the rock b/c of it creating stability issues for the rest of the stadium.

741hawk 11 years, 10 months ago

Right on 100!

KUreader: 7,000 seats in the seven rows created by taking out the track -- 7,000 x $50 per seat x 7 home games = $2,450,000 per season. Seems like a good decision to me.

Tim Quest 11 years, 10 months ago

All I learned from this rant is that Chuck Woodling is nothing if not a loyal company man.

kureader 11 years, 10 months ago

741hawk ... yeah, but you're vacating 7,000 other seats ... you gain nothing. you're just moving people closer to the field. we're not even close to selling out our stadium. and, then we'd have to build a new track & field stadium ... don't disagree that lowering the field would be nice for the fans ... it certainly changes the gametime atmosphere. I'm just saying I wouldn't expect Perkins to put a project like this on his list.

hailtoku 11 years, 10 months ago


The Gridiron isn't selling. So, if we are going to actually build something, than build something that sells.

We ARE building a new track and field area. The new Olympic area out by the Softball field where the old practice Football field is.

yates33333 11 years, 10 months ago

In good Greek fashion, shoot the herald.

jhokfan 11 years, 10 months ago

I disagree Chuck, this is not a mistake. I do agree about the timing. Maybe in 2007 this would have gotten off the ground. They may have to put it on hold but I still believe this is a good idea and eventually it will get done. I love Memorial but it needs an upgrade.

Danimal 11 years, 10 months ago

I've always thought that KU should focus on building the new track facility, and removing the track from Memorial Stadium should have been the higher priority than the Gridiron Club. KU needs more student and family seating to raise the decibels in Memorial Stadium, not a bunch of suites. We need more rabid, noisy football fans, it's a football game, not a wine and cheese party.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.